Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blog tour - "Over the Rainbow" by Brian Rowe

YA Fantasy
Date Published:  8/6/2013

16-year-old Zippy Green never meant to fall in love with a girl, but when she does, her ultra-conservative father tries to send her to anti-gay camp. At the Kansas City airport, however, she hides inside a giant suitcase and sneaks onto an airplane headed not to the camp, but to Seattle, where her online love Mira lives. Halfway through the flight, the plane barrels out of control and crashes into the ground, knocking her unconscious. 

When Zippy awakens, she finds that most of the passengers have vanished. She doesn’t know what’s happened, but she’s determined to find out. She begins a quest on foot toward Seattle, and along the way, she meets a teenager with a concussion , a homeless man with a heart condition, a child without a shred of bravery, and a terrier named Judy. Together the group discovers that more than two-thirds of the world's population has mysteriously disappeared. But that's only the beginning...

All Zippy wants is to find her Mira, but before she can she has to contend with two outside forces. The first is her homophobic father, who does everything in his power to keep her from the girl she loves. And the second is extinct creatures of all shapes and sizes, including living, breathing dinosaurs, which have replaced the missing population.

Brian Rowe

Brian Rowe is a writing fiend, book devotee, film fanatic, and constant dreamer. He's written nine novels, dozens of short stories, five feature-length screenplays, and hundreds of film articles and essays. His fiction has appeared in Dreamspinner Press, Mobius Magazine, and Wilde Oats Literary Journal. He is one half of the YA book blog Story Carnivores, where he reviews the latest in books and film. He is currently pursuing his MA in English at the University of Nevada, Reno, and is hard at work on his first New Adult novel, which will be released in November 2013.

now before my review, here is a little one on one with Brian!

1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else? 

For the longest time I wanted to be a screenwriter/director of movies, but from an early age I've always been a fiction writer. In 2010 I wrote my first novel and realized writing books was what I really wanted to do.

2. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?

It takes me about 6 weeks to write the first draft, then I spend as few as 4-6 months and as long as 2 years rewriting the book, usually 7-10 times, before I query agents and/or self-publish my work.

3. How do you come up with themes for your stories?

One of my faults as a novelist is that I don't necessarily have a "platform," in that I essentially like to write things that compel me. In 2012 I was compelled to write a horror trilogy for teens, so I did that. In 2013 I decided I wanted to focus on stories about gay teens, so I've done that for the last three books. For Over the Rainbow, I really wanted to write a book about a gay character who headlines the kind of full-blown fantasy action-adventure that a heterosexual teen would normally be the hero of.

4. Do you have a schedule of when you write? 

While writing the first draft of a novel, I stick to a very strict schedule of 2,000+ words a day, every day, including weekends, until it's done. In twelve books, I have never digressed from this schedule, and that's partly why I've been able to write 12 books in three years. I have different schedules for revising books, but I keep this first draft schedule the same always. It keeps the characters fresh and engaging in my mind. (I learned this trick from Stephen King!)

5. How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?

It's difficult, in that I also work as a teacher, a tutor, a videographer, and more, so some days I struggle finding the time, but ultimately there are 24 hours a day, and I can find 1-2 hours a day to focus on my writing projects, whether I have to get up early or stay up a little later. But it is definitely hard sometimes, to work these other jobs, have a semblance of a social life, and find the time to write, every single day. But writing novels is what I want to do with my life, and I'll do whatever I can to make that dream a reality.

6. What elements do you think make a great story line? 

Strong characters. I find that with the movies I love, the TV shows I watch, the books I adore, it's often the characters I think about and value more than the actual plot. Of course you need a story, conflict, an antagonist, but without three-dimensional characters on the page, these other plot devices don't matter.

7. What was the hardest thing about writing a book?

The hardest thing about writing a book is not second guessing yourself and trying to write to a certain "audience." I have to just write the story I want to tell, and hope that the readers follow.

8. How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite? 

I have written twelve novels since 2010. Nine of these books are self-published, my tenth will be self-published in November, my eleventh is currently out to literary agents, and my twelfth is taking a little nap in my drawer, before I pull it back out in 2014 to do revisions. My favorite book is Over the Rainbow, because it's the most ambitious, creative, wild book I've written, although I have great affection for Happy Birthday to You, the third and final book of my Happy Birthday to Me trilogy. I'm also super excited about my three upcoming books. I think I'm getting better with each new book!

9. Do you have a favorite character?

Of all my books, the most fun character to write was Cameron Martin, in the Birthday trilogy, because he got to go through such an awesome arc over the course of three books. I also loved writing Ash in my Grisly High trilogy, because he's so much like me. In terms of my upcoming books, look for Lukas in Crashing Into You, and Chloe in Magic Hour.

10. Where do you write?

I write at my desk in my bedroom. I get to look out a window at some trees, it's a really nice view. I hope one day to make enough money to have an office that's separated from my bedroom. Maybe one of these days!

11. When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took? 

I have been querying literary agents and publishers from the beginning, and while I've had some nibbles, I still haven't had an agent to offer me representation. I'm not against traditional publishing, but it would be sad for me if at this moment I had 12 books in my drawer, with nothing to show for it. My Happy Birthday to Me trilogy has especially given joy to hundreds of readers around the world, and I'm not against self-publishing for any of my future books. I'm still looking into literary agents, though, and I feel confident I might be able to find one with my newest gay young adult novel, Magic Hour.

12. Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?

My parents think Over the Rainbow sounds like the craziest thing in history, but my brothers really did the idea and look forward to reading it. Of course my whole family loves that I write books and wish only great success for me.

13. What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?

I've been a film buff my whole life, so I got to movies all the time. I love to go for walks, hikes, bike rides. I like to golf and ski. I love cooking, baking, pretty much anything to do with food.

14. What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?

When I wrote my first novel, Slate, in the spring of 2010, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. Looking back on the actual writing in that novel today is like sticking a fork through my eyes, but without that book, I wouldn't have learned all that I have in the three years since. You become a better writer by writing. So my advice would be to write every day. Even if it's just a few hundred words. Try to write every single day. That's the best advice any writer can give to someone who's looking to start.  

16. What is your favorite book? Favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write? 

My favorite book is Boy's Life, by Robert McCammon. I read it sophomore year of high school, and it's meant so much to me over the years. It is a beautiful coming-of-age novel that combines drama and fantasy and horror and comedy. It's the best. My favorite author is Stephen King, mainly because he has yet to disappoint me with any of his books. He just gets good story, good characters. And his book On Writing has taught me so much. King is my ultimate inspiration.  

17. Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such? 

For the last year and a half, I have had my friend Shaunta Grimes to turn to to read and comment on my new books. I also have found an awesome copyeditor who offered such great advice on Over the Rainbow, and who I hope to work with more in the future.  

18. Are you working on anything now?

I'm in various stages on five upcoming projects. The first is Crashing Into You, my first New Adult novel, coming November 5. It's sexier and edgier than anything I've ever written. I'm hard at work on a gay young adult novel called Magic Hour, about a wedding videographer who discovers he has the ability to make people disappear with the snap of his thumbs. Then there's The First Day, which looks at a relationship between two young gay men over the course of 12 years. And then I have two more books in development I can't wait to start writing!

and now for my review:

Zippy is a 17 year old girl who lives in Kansas with her father who is an Evangelist and Mayor.  Like a typical teenager and father, they don’t get along however their major disagreement comes from the fact that Zippy is lesbian.  After a couple of years of talking with a girl named Mia in Seattle, Zippy’s father finds the emails and decides its time to send her to anti-gay camp to “straighten her out”.  While at the airport, Zippy (who is a very small girl for her age), hides in a suitcase and boards a plane for Seattle. 

While on the plane, it crashes.  Zippy has no idea where she is and where everyone else that was on the plane went.  Looking she finds a little dog named Judy and man in the bathroom named Frankie….turns out he’s gay too 

While in their travels they stumble across a man name Mr. Baum in an abandoned house and the four of them (how can we forget Judy) head to Seattle so that Zippy can finally meet up with Mia.  Along the way Zippy talks with her father and it turns out that the Rapture has finally happened and the one’s still on earth are the individual God didn’t take…although he did re-establish the dinosaur race (very funny aspect to the story). 

So while is a total spin-off of Wizard of Oz, I found that the characters and the story were well written.  I was very hesitant going into this as my ultimate favorite movie of all time the Wizard of Oz and well to me that is a sacred story.  The author kept the characteristics of the characters in tack and you can still pull out the Oz story (Seattle being Emerald City).  There was so much that Zippy had to face along the way and you find her will very encouraging.  She made great friends along the way and her will never diminishes.

If you are looking for a somewhat modern take on a classic story, than this one is for you.  Definitely a book I would recommend and hopefully like me you will find yourself pulled into Zippy’s whirlwind of a trip and not wanting to put the book down 

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